Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Project (PRE-BUDDHIST BELIEFS)

Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Project (PRE-BUDDHIST BELIEFS)'s image
Created: 2015-05-31 19:35
Institution: Department of Archaeology and Anthropology
Description: The ancestors of the Kalmyks, several Oirat tribes, are known to have set out on a westward journey from the land of Dzungaria (today the northern half of China's Xinjiang province, western Mongolia, and eastern Kazakhstan) at the beginning of the seventeenth century. By 1630 they had reached the territory of today's Kalmykia to establish the Kalmyk Khanate (1630-1771). Although they adhered to both Buddhism and shamanism, the latter was officially banned among the Kalmyks following the historic 1640 meeting of Mongol and Oirat lords at which Buddhism was declared as the state religion. According to the new law, not only shamans but also those who sought their services were subject to severe punishment. Following the official ban, shamans, however, did not disappear overnight. In Kalmykia in the eighteenth century there existed several types of specialist who practiced various aspects of shamanism, including medlgch, bo, and udgn. But under pressure from the Buddhist establishment and later the Orthodox Christian Church, by the nineteenth century, as foreign travelers observed, bo and udgn had already been shamanising without traditional shamanic implements such as mirrors, drums and other 'musical' instruments. In this way, they looked less 'shamanic' and acted more like healers and bone-setters. Today shamanic elements have survived mainly in traditional medicine, especially in the healing rituals and practices of Kalmyk folk healers known as medlgch (lit. 'those who know').

The healing repertoire of a medlgch is wide-ranging, encompassing many aspects of the lives of Kalmyks. People struck by bad luck, suffering from all sorts of ailments, loss, addiction, phobias, infertility, sleepwalking, and those who are haunted by malevolent ancestral and other spirits, all visit medlgch. These folk healers purport to derive their healing powers from deities or spirits whom they accept as their guardian patrons during special initiation rituals. There are several kinds of deities that offer patronage and guardianship, the most popular being Tsagan Aav (White Old Man, a shamanic deity later included in the Buddhist pantheon) and Okn Tengr (Maiden Sky, is a female deity who has a dual nature. Sometimes she is regarded as a shamanic goddess of fire, especially during clan rituals involving fire sacrifices, and sometimes she is seen as the Buddhist deity Palden Lhamo). Other guardians are ‘traditional’ Buddhist deities that are responsible for health, longevity, wisdom, music, and fortune. In this sense, today old Kalmyk beliefs survive being heavily mixed with Buddhism.
 

Media items

This collection contains 48 media items.

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Media items

Alexandra Sanzheeva, About Evil Spirits

   1 view

Alexandra recounts two ghost stories.

Collection: Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Project (PRE-BUDDHIST BELIEFS)

Institution: Department of Archaeology and Anthropology

Created: Sun 11 Nov 2018


Anatoliy Dzhavinov, A Story About a Cat

   3 views

Anatoliy relays a story about how in his childhood a cat saved him from a snake. That snake, according to his grandfather, was Anatoliy’s guardian-protector.

Collection: Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Project (PRE-BUDDHIST BELIEFS)

Institution: Department of Archaeology and Anthropology

Created: Tue 21 Aug 2018


Boris Dochkaev, About Shulmus

   6 views

Boris talks about evil spirits (shulmus) and his experience of encountering them.

Collection: Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Project (PRE-BUDDHIST BELIEFS)

Institution: Department of Archaeology and Anthropology

Created: Wed 18 Jul 2018


Dmitriy Mandzhiev, About Evil Spirits

   1 view

In the steppe there are many places that are haunted by evil spirits. A place not far from our cattle station is such a place. People who travel there at night usually get lost...

Collection: Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Project (PRE-BUDDHIST BELIEFS)

Institution: Department of Archaeology and Anthropology

Created: Sun 28 Oct 2018


Dzhidzha Araeva, About a Substitute Ritual

   3 views

Dzhidzha has witnessed a substitute ritual that was performed by a woman who fell ill. A woman wiped her body with dough and sculpted a human figurine from the dough. She dressed...

Collection: Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Project (PRE-BUDDHIST BELIEFS)

Institution: Department of Archaeology and Anthropology

Created: Mon 14 May 2018


Dzhidzha Araeva, About Shulmus

   2 views

Dzhidzha relays stories about people encountering shulmus spirits. This is her story:

It is believed that shulmus (evil spirits) live in the steppe and make people go astray....

Collection: Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Project (PRE-BUDDHIST BELIEFS)

Institution: Department of Archaeology and Anthropology

Created: Mon 14 May 2018


Ekaterina Boldyreva, About the Tsagan Aav

   62 views

Ekaterina says that she has a picture of Tsagan Aav depicted as a standing sage (as opposed to a sitting one). From her friend she heard that Tsagan Aav comes to the dreams of...

Collection: Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Project (PRE-BUDDHIST BELIEFS)

Institution: Department of Archaeology and Anthropology

Created: Mon 16 Jan 2017


Elza Badaeva, About Okn Tengri, Goddess of Fire

   20 views

For the sake of all humans, it is said, the goddess Okn Tengri sacrificed herself to a monster. She became pregnant by the monster and bore him a baby boy. Then she killed the...

Collection: Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Project (PRE-BUDDHIST BELIEFS)

Institution: Department of Archaeology and Anthropology

Created: Tue 9 Feb 2016


Gerel Shakeeva, About Medlegchi

   5 views

When in Kalmykia Gerel often went to see folk healers, bone-setters and diviners. On one occasion she was taken to a folk healer by her mother. The reason for this was as follows....

Collection: Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Project (PRE-BUDDHIST BELIEFS)

Institution: Department of Archaeology and Anthropology

Created: Fri 30 Sep 2016


Keemia Orlova, About Tsagan Aav

   16 views

Tsagan Aav is the protector of all Kalmyks, irrespective of their clan affiliation. Usually he is depicted in a white robe holding a stick. There is a sutra about how the Buddha...

Collection: Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Project (PRE-BUDDHIST BELIEFS)

Institution: Department of Archaeology and Anthropology

Created: Sun 26 Feb 2017


Ksenia Kardonova, About Shulmus

   4 views

In the old days, in the place called Shandib, there were a lot of shulmus (evil spirits, demons). For example, a man was riding a cart and suddenly the wheel came off and rolled...

Collection: Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Project (PRE-BUDDHIST BELIEFS)

Institution: Department of Archaeology and Anthropology

Created: Wed 6 Jun 2018


Maria Lidzhigoryaeva, How My Father Told Fortunes

   9 views

Maria’s father did divination with sticks. He cut sticks into a trihedral in shape and made cuts on them. On his sticks he predicted that Maria’s uncle, who was a soldier in the...

Collection: Kalmyk Cultural Heritage Project (PRE-BUDDHIST BELIEFS)

Institution: Department of Archaeology and Anthropology

Created: Thu 11 Aug 2016


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